I hesitated so much about posting this planning thread, but reading other people's has helped me a lot, so here is mine. I hope I didn't make it too long. I love threads with tons of detail. I tried to organize it as best I could but I have so many ideas running through my head that sometimes they're hard to organize .
How we met:
Juan and I met 7 years ago when a friend invited me to smoke some hookah and Juan happened to be friends with some of my friend’s friends. The second I walked in and I saw him, I remember thinking to myself “That’s one good looking guy!” We talked for a bit and when it got home at around 1:30am, I go on facebook and see that he has added me as a friend.
Unfortunately timing was a bit of an issue for us. At the time we met he had a girlfriend, even though things weren’t going well between them and we definitely had a mutual attraction, I decided to walk away and not talk with him anymore. Fast forward 5 months, I went out with a girlfriend to celebrate that the school year was over and there he was! Up until that point I thought our attraction was something temporary, which was long gone, but the second we saw each other it was literally like a movie, and all those feeling came rushing back in one second. The best way I can describe it, it felt like pure chemistry, like we had known each other for ages. There was only one problem: I had a boyfriend then. Anyway, I decided to follow my heart so I broke it off with my boyfriend and decided to give this relationship with Juan a chance. Never in a million years would I have thought we would be here today.
one of our first pictures together:
Originally his plan was to propose on a trip we were going to take down to Mexico. He had reserved a private beach dinner for us. However he had some issues with a summer class he was taking and he needed to stay, right on the week of our trip! So that was wrecked proposal #1.
Juan really dislikes celebrating his birthday but I wanted to do something nice for his 30th, so I planned a glow in the dark surprise party. My now MOH and I spend months planning this thing haha. As we were setting things up I get a call from Juan, and he asks “Sofia, are you planning a party for me?” he sounded so disappointed so I had to tell him the truth. He even sounded a bit mad, which I couldn’t understand why.
When he gets to the party he’s not mad at all, he’s actually super appreciative of it. As we were dancing he says to me “tell them to turn down the music, I want to say something” and my response (which, to this day I feel pretty dumb about about haha) “wait! I love this song!” *facepalm. So anyway, we turn down the music, and he starts off by thanking my friend and I for putting together the party and saying that he wanted to do this a while back, while in Mexico, but that he couldn’t… and that’s when my mind goes blank because it started freaking out haha. All I remember was that he went down on one knee and everyone was cheering while I was trying to keep it together and not cry. I couldn’t say yes, I could only nod and hug him. Out of all the people at my house he had not told anyone he was going to propose, so there are barely any pictures. I think everyone was as shocked as I was haha.
Then the truth comes out, he had actually planned a romantic dinner that night, he had reservations, flowers arranged, everything. He knows I like to celebrate birthdays, and since he doesn’t like celebrating his, then he thought that at least I could celebrate our engagement that day J. Then he found out I had planned the party so he had to go and cancel everything. That’s why he sounded so disappointed on the phone haha. So, that was wrecked proposal #2 but I guess the third time is the charm! haha
This is the only semi-decent picture we have of that night right after he proposed:
I chose my own ring. We were supposed to go see what I liked one day so he’d have an idea when he actually went shopping. As soon as we came out of the store he says, “I bought the ring”. I was like “what!?” (btw he sucks at keeping surprises a secret). Anyway, he upgraded the diamond from the one I had picked and I have to agree it looks nicer J. Here is a picture of it:
Our idea for a wedding:
Juan told me he wanted a DW ever since we started talking about marriage. He was super determined about this, no budging. I didn’t really care either way so we went with it. However, I did not want a super intimate wedding, with a simple white dress, my hair flowing freely in the wind with our toes on the sand. That’s what scared me a little bit about a DW at first because these were the only type that I had seen. Then luckily I found this forum and began to realize that DW are as varied as any other event. We soon came up with our wishlist. Our resort needed:
· A venue for the ceremony that was not on the sand, a gazebo, or even better, some kind of terrace would be perfect
· We needed to fit around 50 people
· Affordable – we were thinking at around $1500
· Probably somewhere family friendly. We’re at the age when everyone is having kids so we didn’t want to leave anyone out.
· A place where we could have a private reception
· Somewhere close to an active nightlife
We ended up choosing Mexico, mostly due to costs but also because we like it. It’s also a fairly short flight compared to other destinations.
Choosing the resort:
I think finding the resort was one of the hardest parts, and me second-guessing everything did not make it any easier. I went through these forums doing research and narrowed it down to 3 places. We were planning a trip to Cancun so we thought why not check them out? We pretty much picked one hotel when we came back but it was still too early to book so we waited another year (longest wait, ever!)
As we got closer to at least the year we’d be getting married in, we decided to look for a TA. A member here in the forums recommended us LaurieLee so we met up with her. We were sold after the meeting with her so we didn’t shop around or anything for other TAs. We told her about the hotel we had seen in Cancun. Unfortunately when she got prices for us it was not good news. The price was right, but this resort wanted Juan and I to put down $150 for each guest (non refundable) in order to reserve the spots, so it was back to the drawing board because we didn’t want to take that risk. I was pretty frustrated that we wasted that trip checking out hotels, which none ended up working out, but oh well. So my suggestion, get a TA first, even if your wedding is far away.
Our TA suggested a couple of resorts to us and we totally fell in love with Azul Fives, or at least I did. I just needed that terrace! If Juan wanted a DW, I wanted to have it on a terrace overlooking the ocean. The hotel itself was $100 more expensive than our original budget for the cheapest room but I just couldn’t resist, and Juan “agreed” haha.
How the weddings work at Azul Fives:
I was beyond confused about all of this. I think I spent a week trying to figure out if we could even afford having a wedding at this beautiful hotel. Their website is so not user friendly and there was such little info out there when we booked! This is why I'm including this.
This resort doesn’t have predesigned packages like a lot of other hotels. You pay the basic and then it’s pretty much all a la carte. Long story short, unless you’re in the States, you pay $950 for a basic ceremony (which is free for US residents). I thought this was free for Canadians as well but their small print wasn’t clear enough, and there’s no arguing now.
Then the fun begins because you can truly blow that pesky budget out of the water if you let yourself have everything you desire. There are so many upgrades, so many things you can rent out that you can truly go crazy. For starters, you can have one of their packaged ceremonies for $3000. They’re beautiful, you basically get a ceremony fit for a beach princess, but we couldn’t justify spending such a huge chunk of our budget on something that is over so quickly. We’re going for something simple in terms of décor, but I’ll get into that later.
The thing about Azul Fives is that you can have pretty much anything you want, but it all comes with a cost, so beware. I still wouldn’t change the hotel. As much as I sometimes complain about their high prices for everything, this is really my only complaint so far. It has pretty much everything that was on our wishlist and the communication with my WC is great, everything seems to be smooth sailing so far.
Choosing the colors:
I think I changed our colors every week at the beginning haha. Juan was of no help here because I think all men are partially color blind. They only see primary and secondary colors. I kept asking him and his response always was, “as long as it’s not red I’m good”. You know how many freaking colors are on a color wheel that are NOT red?! When I saw the pictures for one of Karisma’s packages I immediately decided, I loved the vintage elegance theme. It just kind of goes with who I am and Juan was just kind of like “whatever you want, they all look nice”. This is what it looks like:
Colors were set, theme was sort of set. In hindsight maybe I should have gone with more of a common color, because a lot of things would have been easier to find, but I still love it.
Getting people booked:
We’re in Canada, which means that we usually get our hotel, flight and transportation bundled into one. The first thing we did was reserving the date for our wedding. Our TA took care of that. Once that was confirmed and we had an actual date, then she made the room block for 30 people with the tour company, Transat. Our guests had 90 days to put a $150 deposit and now they have until June to pay the full balance.
Our TA provided us with an electronic save the date. It wasn’t anything crazy really. I created a canned message on gmail and then added a little message for each person before sending it off.
LaurieLee has been amazing so far about getting people booked, etc. so if anyone needs a TA in the Calgary area I wouldn't hesitate to recommend her, especially if you're thinking of using a Karisma resort.
We made our website before we sent our STD so we could include the link on there. It was hard to choose a website. We decided to go with Weddingwire. Again, sometimes my color choices came to bite me in the ass. It was hard to find a website that had similar colors.
The main purpose of the website was to get people to book. I had included pretty wording, etc. until I realized people don’t really read so I changed the information to be point form in some parts.
You can check it out here:
The process of making the invites:
We handed out invites about a month before our booking deadline. Most of our guests live in the same city, so we personally delivered them and mailed out a few.
We didn’t really shop around for invites. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on these because most people just throw them to the garbage, so I’d rather spend that money on the wedding itself. We decided to go the boarding pass route and DIY. My mom is pretty creative and she designed them on photoshop. In terms of printing, I tried printing them in the two printers we have but since the background was colored they looked pretty amateur. We sent them to be printed at Staples, I can’t remember exactly how much we paid but it was less than $1 per page, and we had two invites in each page. I chose a glossy cardstock. They cut them for us, we just had to go through and cut the rounded corners with a puncher.
We made the invites only one page each. In hindsight, I really wish I had included more information and made them more than one page long.
For the envelopes, I bought some pearly ivory paper at Michael’s (with a coupon of course), and printed each envelope with the guests names at the back. Our envelopes were pretty simple, they didn’t have a slit or anything like that but, meh. There are definitely some nicer ones out there in these forums.
My mom has an embossing machine and I thought, “why not use it?” It took quite a few tries because I kept getting crease of the edge of the folder on the envelopes. Thanks google for the solution for this. I loved how that turned out and so did our guests. It was time consuming, as I had to roll each envelope through the little machine twice. But it was worth it. We made a joke with my mom that I looked like I belonged to the Ingalls family haha, so low tech.
I used a bone folder to create the creases and fold the envelopes for them to look cleaner. I had bought a Martha Stewart glue pen to put them together. What a piece of crap, don’t waste your money. The envelopes started to come off within a few hours, even though we left them pressed for a whole night under some books for the glue to stick. The pen also dried out after two uses. We had to glue the envelopes all over again, this time with old school glue. I used the useless pen by dipping it into the glue and then brush it over the envelopes. That did the trick and they looked fine.
Here's us in our little invite making party:
I bought some stamps from Michael’s as well that were travel related, so we stamped the invites and the envelopes.
Then I made little ribbon bows and I glued them with a hot glue gun to close the invites. This was the finished product:
Everyone really liked them. They’re not the nicest ones on this site but at the end of the day they’re just invites and I can bet you ¾ ended up in the garbage.
Then the waiting began….
About a week before our deadline the only people booked were us, my family and 4 friends (my family because I basically sat them down one day and forced them to book, I told them that they needed to make me feel better hahah). We sent out text messages to everyone reminding them that the deadline was that week and that otherwise they would lose the special pricing. We only sent these to the people who expressed some interest in coming. Most people booked in the last couple of days. I was freaking out, thinking no one would be there but most came through in the end J. Right now we officially have 42 people and 3 kids and still waiting for quite a few more, so this could explode any minute. Otherwise I’m more than happy with 45 people.
Next, the fun really begins with all the planning!